President Yoweri Museveni has written to the World Bank, pleading with the world institution to release the funds it suspended due to lack of accountability by the government of Uganda.
The World Bank Group took a decision to withhold new lending to Uganda amounting to more than $1.5b (Shs5 trillion) effective August 22, 2016.
The bank said in a statement that it was reviewing the country’s portfolio in consultation with the Government of Uganda.
“We continue to actively work with the Ugandan authorities to address the outstanding performance issues in the portfolio, including delays in project effectiveness, weaknesses in safeguards monitoring and enforcement, and low disbursement.”
The bank reiterated its commitment to doing everything possible to work closely with the Government of Uganda, as well as with other stakeholders, to support the country’s development and ensure that all World Bank-supported projects deliver tangible and long-lasting results to all Ugandans, especially the poor and vulnerable.
In his letter copied to senior officials in the Ministry of Finance and quoted by Daily Monitor, Museveni pleaded with the bank promising that his government was addressing the structural gaps and other loopholes.
He explained that his government has many projects whose failure could have wide economic and political ramifications.
The secretary to the treasury, Keith Muhakanizi, will travel to the Bank’s headquarters in Washington DC next month as part of a delegation led by Finance minister Matia Kasaija to plead Uganda’s case at the International Development Association (IDA) 18 Replenishment negotiation meeting.
He said Museveni has now directed that accounting officers that fail to justifiably absorb loans be punished.
The World Bank in its assessment of performance on external financing, said Uganda performed dismally with 72 per cent of projects being unsatisfactory between 2007 and June 2016. Only 15 per cent of projects are considered satisfactory.
The bank, however, assured that projects already approved by its board before August 22 worth $1.8b (Shs6 trillion) will remain active.
The loans that have not been absorbed also amount to $1.8b.